Alright, you’ve decided to homeschool–or maybe you really want to but the idea still freaks you out and you’re not sure you can. Time for a pep talk.
I want you to stop and visualize what the ideal homeschool environment looks like to you. The cozy learning at home, all the bonding time with your children, the freedom they’ll experience away from a confined classroom.
Now toss that out of a window.
Now, think about yourself and your family, and visualize what the best homeschool environment looks like to you, perhaps a few goals and aspirations sprinkled in. Great, just know you might be tossing that out a window next week.
The beauty of homeschool is it is NOT replicating public school at home. It is crafting a learning environment that best suits your family’s tastes and needs on an individual level and as a whole. So you don’t have to have it completely figured out right this instant. And you don’t have to stick with it if it doesn’t match what you envisioned. Your style of educating your children will evolve and grow right along with your family.
Learning doesn’t just happen when “school” is happening, and learning doesn’t always involve a textbook. It’s not always at home either. We really should rebrand from homeschool to LifeLearning.
Maybe it’s unschooling and not a textbook in sight–you pick up piles of books of the library that their natural curiosity and personal interests make them pour over; or perhaps you’re outdoors for half the day exploring; maybe it’s a program on the computer that you help facilitate, or you join a co-op with hired teachers.
The most important thing about whatever path you choose to educate your children is that you are involved and invested.
Alright, pretty pep talk over, let me address the most common concerns I see with parents considering homeschool:
“I don’t feel capable enough or qualified to teaching”
I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t have some concern at the start of their homeschooling journey about their capabilities as a homeschool teacher for their kids–that even includes myself. For reference, I was homeschooled until the 5th grade, then entered public school (we moved and my mom had to go back to teaching); after my sophomore year of high, I dropped out of high school and was “homeschooled” for a semester of college before my dad sent an email saying I was graduated, then allowing me to enroll full time. I also have a Master’s of Education in Biology with a minor in Literature.
I was hesitant to homeschool because I didn’t think I would be competent to teach my son how to read. My thoughts looking back on this are somewhere between a face palm and an eye roll.
I say all of this to reassure you that you are capable of educating your own children–and if you’re reading this blog, you have the ability to find loads of resources to help you on your journey.
“We’ll have to live on one income”
I read a story about how having a parent home full-time is a luxury. Which is so true–that doesn’t make it easy, but hard does not equal bad. So I think it’s also wise, if you’re considering one parent stopping their career (for now), to think through all the non-monetary benefits you’ll gain from someone’s primary role being at home.
I also think people way overestimate how much time you need to homeschool. Ames just completed First grade, where we covered more subjects than actually required, and he needed an hour in total to complete his assignments. And speaking from personal experience as a homeschool kid, once we learn to read, we can function pretty independently to complete our work. All this to say, I think it’s very reasonable to still maintain at least a part time position if you wish, especially home that is done from home.
If you are considering dropping from two to one incomes, the best thing you can do is become accustomed to only living on one income. Trying living off only the income of the parent who will continue working, use the other spouses to expedite paying off debts or funneling into savings/investments.
“I will go crazy”
I firmly believe our society is conditioning us to hate children, and to think we should not enjoy being with our family. It’s so pervasive that I’m even seeing signs of it in our church.
Now, am I saying–and expecting–you to have just a fabulous time, all the time, with your kids? No. not because they’re kids, but because they’re people and people are exhausting–I’m an introvert, so I am very aware of this. Especially if you’re transitioning from working out of the house full time, to being home with your kiddos full time, there will be a learning or adjustment period. I’ve always been at home and we go through a long learning period every time we add a new child to the mix.
All that goes to say: I do think we need to learn to appreciate and enjoy being with our family, but also am fully aware that different routines and such are necessary for different dynamics. And even with homeschooling, I do take breaks from my kids–one surprising example is our homeschool co-op; it’s a volunteer based group, so while I’m around kids all day, I’m not around mine, so there is a fresh interaction with them when the day is done and we ask about their classes. At home, Colton and I do our best to take turns when possible, are honest when one of us is reaching our limit (yes it’s usually me reaching that limit first), and recognize that one parent may have an easier dynamic with a specific child.
That is a whole lot of meandering to say that, yes there will be times when your sanity slips, but I think if that is holding you back, you are limiting yourself because of a lot of lies modern society has slipped into your internal dialogue.
Here’s a last little thought: most people hesitate to homeschool because of untold qualifications they feel they are lacking; whereas most of those who choose to homeschool do so because they recognize severe lacking environmentally, and theologically in the typical school system–something much more harmful than what’s rated on a standardized test.